COASTAL communities in south east Northumberland are being given the chance to see how erosion could affect their future.
A pilot series of online maps have been published by the Environment Agency – with one covering Northumberland and North Tyneside.
The maps – developed in conjunction with local councils – provide information for the public on how coastal erosion could affect where they live over the next 20 years, how the coast is being managed and any defences that are in place.
Although few households are at risk from coastal erosion, its consequences can be serious.
Officials at the Environment Agency say better information on coastal erosion will help coastal communities make more informed decisions about development and adapting to a changing coastline.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “Coastal erosion is a natural process, and while we can’t defend every single section of cliff or beach, there are some practical steps that will help people plan ahead and adapt for the future.
“Making this information available now will help communities and councils decide what action they need to take to adapt to coastal erosion.
“Over the next four years, we’ll be spending at least £2.1bn on tackling erosion and flooding, and we’ve made reforms to give people more say in how this money is spent locally to defend our coastline in the most sensible and robust way.”
The Environment Agency chairman, Lord Chris Smith, said it was important that people living and working on the coast understood how their coastlines could change in the future, and that local authorities had access to the best available information.
“It is part of the Environment Agency’s role to help coastal communities make informed decisions about how best to manage the coast and plan development,” he said.
“The latest climate change impact data has been used to ensure the information is the best available on the risks of coastal erosion.”
Plans are already in place to manage and adapt to coastal erosion in England and Wales.
The erosion map is available online at www.environment-agency.gov.uk